The hip joint is a ball and socket joint that connects the top of the thigh bone (femur) to the pelvis (acetabulum). The joint is supported by ligaments, tendons and muscles which allow movement in all directions. Also adding to the stability of the hip joint is a ring of fibrous cartilage that sits along the rim of the hip socket (acetabulum) known as the labrum. Injury to the hip can result in the labrum becoming torn or detached from its attachment.
Labral tears can be caused by:
- Abnormalities in the development or shape of the hip joint resulting in gradual labral injury,
- Repetitive small energy injuries
- A single high energy accident.
Sports can involve large, repetitive forces being placed through the hip joint and are a common cause of labral injuries.
The common symptoms of hip labral injuries are:
- Pain over the hip or groin
- Catching or clicking with movement
- Pain that increases with prolonged sitting, standing or walking
- Hip stiffness
- Instability of the hip joint and feeling your hip will give way.
Your doctor will ask you questions about your pain and other symptoms, and activities that may have caused the injury.
Your doctor will perform a physical examination to assess your movement and hip function.
An x-ray may be required to look at the bones of the hip joint and to look for any fractures or other abnormalities.
An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan is the best way to view the labral tear and to look for injuires to other structures such as cartilage, tendons or ligaments of the hip joint.
A number of labral injuries do not require surgery and can be managed conservatively. Non-surgical treatment includes:
- Avoiding activities that involve rotating the affected hip or pivoting on the affected leg.
- Physiotherapy to strengthen the joint
- Pain and anti-inflammatory medication
- Cortisone injection into the joint
Your doctor may recommend surgery to treat your labral tear. This can usually be performed as minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery (link to arthroscopic surgery page).
Your surgeon will repair the torn tissue whenever possible but otherwise they may need to remove the torn piece of cartilage, and remove other loose fragments of ligament, cartilage or bone that may be causing continued symptoms.